DNR: News Digest – Week of Nov. 30, 2020

DNR: News Digest – Week of Nov. 30, 2020

News Digest – Week of Nov. 30, 2020

digest header

Use one of these wonderful winter scenes from the DNR for your next virtual meeting.

Here’s a look at some of this week’s stories from the Department of Natural Resources:

See other news releases, Showcasing the DNR stories, photos and other resources at Michigan.gov/DNRPressRoom.

PHOTO FOLDER: Larger, higher-res versions of the images used below, and additional ones, are available in this folder.

Take advantage of December pheasant and ruffed grouse seasons

pheasantExplore Michigan’s winter wonders in December while hunting for ruffed grouse or pheasants. Beginning Tuesday, the late ruffed grouse season and Zone 3 pheasant season will be open through Jan. 1, 2021.

The December pheasant hunting season is open only in select portions of Zone 3 (see the map on page 55 of the 2020 Hunting Digest) and pheasant hunters may bag two male pheasants a day. Pheasant hunters need a free pheasant/sharp-tailed grouse endorsement on their hunting license, unless hunting pheasant only on hunting preserves.

Want to become a ruffed grouse and American woodcock cooperator? Download the cooperator report and tell us about days spent afield and what flush rates were like. This information provides an indicator of the hunting season and population trends for grouse and woodcock.

For more information on the 2020 pheasant and ruffed grouse season regulations and dates, see the 2020 Hunting Digest available at Michigan.gov/DNRDigests.

Questions? Contact Rachel Leightner at 517-243-5813.

Heading out? Join a winter bird count!

cardinalWhether you’re at home or visiting a nearby natural area, wintertime provides plenty of opportunities to observe birds across Michigan. Our open lakes and rivers have turned into a cornucopia of waterfowl and water bird activity. Northern finches, sparrows and owls are descending upon forests and suburbs, and woodlands and grasslands provide winter cover and seeds for birds like the dark-eyed junco, white-throated sparrow and American tree sparrow.

You can contribute to community science, too, by joining a bird count this winter. With bird populations in decline since the 1960s, it is increasingly important that scientists and land managers understand all aspects of a bird’s life cycle. Winter bird counts help scientists track bird movements, assess bird population health and guide meaningful conservation action. There are a few ways to get involved in a winter bird count near you:

cardinalParticipate in Audubon’s Christmas Bird Count

The CBC is the longest running community science bird census in North America. For more than a century, birders and volunteers have braved snow, wind and occasional rain to take part in this early-winter bird census. Join a local count, which will take place over a 24-hour period between Dec. 14 and Jan. 5. Explore the interactive CBC map to join a Christmas Bird Count near you!

Keep in mind that the COVID-19 pandemic will affect CBC participation. Pending local restrictions, many counts will be done under the COVID-19 guidelines sent to compilers, while others likely could be canceled. See the map for current information.

Join a Winter FeederWatch Count

If you have a bird feeder visible from a window at your home or office, you’re ready to participate in a winter feeder survey, taking place now through April 2021. Monitor your bird feeder as often as you’d like. Participation is easy, and all age levels and birding skills are welcome.

MI Birds is a public outreach program presented by Audubon Great Lakes and the DNR, aimed at increasing all Michiganders’ engagement in the understanding, care and stewardship of the public lands that are important for birds and local communities. Follow along on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

Questions? Contact Erin Rowan at 313-820-0809.

Zooming in a winter wonderland

zoom bgA snowy, lantern-lit trail, a cardinal’s crimson plumage, ice-bejeweled berries and more – these scenes, found in the DNR’s collection of virtual videoconferencing backgrounds, can brighten the backdrop for your next virtual call. They’ll add some charm and beauty next time you’re meeting by screen with friends, family or colleagues.

With these new additions, you can enjoy the wonders of winter while remaining cozy indoors – or get inspired to go out and try a new winter activity like snowshoeing, winter hiking or fat-tire biking. Browse the gallery, which is available at Michigan.gov/DNRPressRoom in the Photos and Videos section.

In addition to their visual appeal, virtual backgrounds serve a practical purpose. When you’re meeting online with people outside your immediate contacts, security experts recommend using virtual backgrounds to obscure details of your home and surroundings. Steps to enable and upload backgrounds in a Zoom account are available on the Zoom virtual background support page. The high-resolution images should be compatible with other virtual meeting platforms, too, and can be used as computer backgrounds.

Questions? Contact Beth Fults at 517-284-6071.

ICYMI: #ADA30 and the growth of accessible recreation

track chairThis year marks the 30-year anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The landmark civil rights legislation – which the U.S. Department of Justice said prohibits disability discrimination and guarantees that people with disabilities have the same opportunities as everyone else to participate in the mainstream of American life – was patterned after the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination based on color, race, sex, religion or national origin.

In case you missed it, to commemorate the signing of this important legislation, the DNR recently released a video exploring the expansion of accessible recreation in Michigan and capturing testimonials from officials, staff and residents about these evolving opportunities and the hard work and drive that got us to this point. Read the full Showcasing the DNR story for more information.


Though many of our winged friends are heading south, there are still plenty of birds to peep this winter. Check out winter birding opportunities to get started.


Too early to think about Memorial Day camping? We don’t think so! The six-month window for reservations is open, so start thinking ahead and book your favorite spots soon.


If you’re having a great deer season and want to support hungry families, share part of your harvest with Michigan Sportsmen Against Hunger or make a donation.

DNR COVID-19 RESPONSE: For details on affected DNR facilities and services, visit this webpage. Follow state actions and guidelines at Michigan.gov/Coronavirus.
DNR recommends $5.4 million in Land and Water Conservation grants

DNR recommends $5.4 million in Land and Water Conservation grants

– DNR News –

Nov. 24, 2020
Contact: Christie Bayus, BayusC@Michigan.gov

DNR recommends $5.4 million in Land and Water Conservation Fund grants to support park projects

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has recommended 14 community and state parks, trails and sports facilities across the state to share $5,441,600 in Land and Water Conservation Fund grants.

“The Land and Water Conservation Fund is pivotal in supporting projects that improve the quality of outdoor recreation for communities across Michigan,” said Dan Lord, DNR grants manager. “This fund is an excellent example of successful collaboration among federal, state and local government partners who are focused on bringing real-world health and social benefits to residents and visitors.”

Projects recommended for funding are in Bay, Berrien, Eaton, Houghton, Ingham, Macomb, Oakland, Oceana, Van Buren, Washtenaw and Wayne counties. That funding will support campground developments, park renovations and improvements, accessible playground development, accessibility improvements and more.

Program background

The DNR uses Land and Water Conservation Fund dollars to help develop public outdoor recreation facilities and to provide matching grants for local governments to do the same. The program supports Native American tribes, villages, cities, townships and counties, and divisions within the DNR in their efforts to give people better, broader access to quality public outdoor recreation opportunities.

The LWCF is supported by revenues from federal gas and oil development from the Gulf of Mexico. Following congressional appropriation, the monies are apportioned to the states by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior each fiscal year. The project recommendations will be sent to the National Park Service for federal approval.

The Great American Outdoors Act, signed into law this past August, established permanent funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Michigan is now poised to see an increase in funding for the LWCF grant program, which it administers on behalf of the National Park Service. In anticipation of next year’s funding increase, the DNR is raising the maximum application request from $300,000 to $500,000 for the 2021 application cycle.

Application information

Eligible applicants include any unit of government including Native American tribes, school districts or any combination of units with the legal authority to provide recreation. Applicants can seek funding for a variety of projects, including development of and improvements to playgrounds, trails and walkways, skate parks, boat launches, picnic areas, sports fields and campgrounds, in addition to improved access for users of all abilities beyond Americans with Disabilities Act guidelines.

Application materials and information for LWCF grants are available at Michigan.gov/LWCFGrants. Applications for the 2021 funding cycle are due April 1.

For more information about this and other DNR-administered grants, contact DNR Grants Management at 517-284-7268.

DNR COVID-19 RESPONSE: For details on affected DNR facilities and services, visit this webpage. Follow state actions and guidelines at Michigan.gov/Coronavirus.
DNR recommends $5.4 million in Land and Water Conservation grants

Showcasing the DNR

Open the door to the inviting world of nature

– Showcasing the DNR –

A hazy sunset is shown from a chilly evening.

Showcasing the DNR: The art and magic of being there

Michigan Department of Natural Resources

When asked, hunters – like anglers, hikers, campers and others who enjoy the outdoors – often say the richness of their experiences in the woods is created merely by “just being out there.”

This notion, while seemingly simple, is in fact quite profound.

Ice encases pine boughs.It may be the best attempt to put into words the peacefulness of the forest when it snows or the sweet smells of the leaves and the trees, the talking songs of the birds and the river, the warm feeling of sunshine, cold winds drifting across your face or seeing your first black bear or moose up close.

Maybe what it’s like to just sit still and listen to the woods?

Ever really try to explain to someone what the clear, starry night sky looks like, or what it feels like to see it?

What about the experience of hiking a trail under hemlocks and pines, or looking down from a rocky ledge to see the shimmering lake below on a sunny afternoon?

Maybe the sights and sounds of watching a campfire into the morning hours or the startling experience of flushing a grouse?

Those who try to talk or write about these things they’ve experienced will often admit their descriptions fall short, no matter how accurate they may be.

A red fox is shown walking along a forest road.I am among them.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, it should also be said there are countless things a camera cannot capture, no matter how great the lenses, the lighting or the photo post-production tools are.

To truly capture certain outdoor experiences or some of the most important intrinsic beauty of plants, animals, places and many kinds of natural phenomena, it certainly takes more than a thousand words, or one picture.

I think the elusive, missing ingredient in all the efforts to duplicate or convey these encounters is the human experience.

Whatever aspect of nature we are trying to photograph, write about or tell others about can often connect us so personally to nature, the world and the universe.

In many cases, these experiences are truly singular, personal and real – written indelibly on our souls. They will no doubt come to mind for years and years to come.

A storyteller, whether a writer, photographer or hunter, angler, skier, trapper or hiker, will never be able to truly convey the totality of those beautiful moments – no matter the medium.

I’ve found the best bet is to try to have as many of those incredible, personal outdoor experiences as I can, conceding I will never fully capture them in words or pictures.

I am reminded of very creative and capable people I’ve heard try hard to tell others about something that happened to them but eventually, they throw up their hands in futility saying, “I guess you had to be there.”

An inscription is shown on a sign near the DNR field office in Crystal Falls.These days, even despite an uptick in participation attributed to the quarantined nature of the novel coronavirus pandemic, there are lots of people concerned about the increasing loss in the numbers of people having valuable outdoor experiences with nature.

There are consequences computers and digital technologies have created, especially when it comes to keeping many adults, and especially children, indoors or disengaged from personal and intimate experiences with the natural world.

On a recent trip to Crystal Falls in Iron County, I read a trailhead sign the Michigan Department of Natural Resources put up that I had never seen before. It’s located not more than a few steps outside the department’s field office there.

The author, whoever it was, understood this concern.

The sign titled “Planet Earth, Our Home” read:

Our earth is a very forgiving planet – to a point. Many of us know more about ‘surfing the net’ than we do of the natural resources that sustain our lives, yet we go on pretending that technology will always quench our thirst, fill our bellies and run our cars, while retaining our quality of life.

As you walk this trail use all your senses to see, hear, smell, taste and feel life, and think about in which direction you would like to see mankind travel. What can you do to make this happen?

A winding road beckons travelers.I once had a paddler friend who likened himself to the character in Michael Martin Murphy’s song “Boy from the Country,” from his 1972 album, “Geronimo’s Cadillac.”

This friend of mine looked like a mountain man. His blond hair was worn shaggy and dirty, and his flannel shirts and blue jeans were slept in.

He talked about the animals of the forest speaking to him, his isolation from much of society and his love for paddling his canoe over the rivers and lakes of this rugged region.

Murphy – who also wrote and sang the 1975 hit “Wildfire” – wrote:

Because he called the forest brother

Because he called the earth his mother

They drove him out into the rain

Some people even said the boy from the country was insane

A group of gulls lifts off the ground all at once.I think about my old friend every now and then, especially when I hear that song. I hope he’s still out there somewhere paddling his canoe silently past a beaver lodge, over a school of spawning trout and under the skies cast red by the setting sun.

I hope he’s found many more friends along his journey, people able to look beyond his gritty, disheveled exterior to glimpse the soul of nature and life in his heart.

When I picture him, I see him always paddling his canoe, heading somewhere around the river bend up ahead, looking for that next experience that will draw him even closer to nature.

In my own way, I’m traveling with him, looking for the purest experiences the natural world can offer, teaching me the truths concealed in the hearts of birds and animals, knowing all the while my greatest fulfillment will always come from “just being out there.”

Check out previous Showcasing the DNR stories in our archive at Michigan.gov/DNRStories. To subscribe to upcoming Showcasing articles, sign up for free email delivery at Michigan.gov/DNR.

/Note to editors: Contact: John Pepin, Showcasing the DNR series editor, 906-226-1352. Accompanying photos and a text-only version of this story are available below for download. Caption information follows. Credit Michigan Department of Natural Resources, unless otherwise noted.

Text-only Showcasing – Being There

Clouds: A morning sky on a cold, autumn day is shown.

Fox: A red fox walks along the edge of a graveled forest road.

Gulls: A group of gulls lifts off the sand along the Lake Superior shoreline.

Ice: Ice encases the needles of a pine tree.

Road: A winding road beckons travelers to come to explore.

Rocks: Water-smoothed stones litter a Michigan shoreline.

Sign: A sign outside the Michigan Department of Natural Resources filed office in Crystal Falls urges visitors to immerse themselves in nature.

Sky: A striking sunset is pictured from an evening in the Upper Peninsula./

DNR COVID-19 RESPONSE: For details on affected DNR facilities and services, visit this webpage. Follow state actions and guidelines at Michigan.gov/Coronavirus.
DNR: Honoring conservation officers with military backgrounds

DNR: Honoring conservation officers with military backgrounds

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– Showcasing the DNR –

Conservation officer Chris Maher is shown on a military aircraft.

Honoring conservation officers with military backgrounds

Michigan Department of Natural Resources

Veterans Day is one day to appreciate and thank soldiers, Marines, airmen and sailors who spent years of their lives defending our country’s freedom and protecting the rights of the American people.

Some of those military veterans continue to actively serve the people of Michigan as conservation officers in the Law Enforcement Division of the Department of Natural Resources.

There are 25 military veterans serving throughout the DNR’s current conservation officer ranks. Their service spans every branch of the military, various ranks and backgrounds.

Corporal Ivan Perez is pictured operating a DNR law enforcement boat.Conservation officers protect the state’s natural resources, environment and the health and safety of the public. Without this protection, outdoor enthusiasts would risk losing their ability to enjoy Michigan’s natural resources, as a result of overharvesting of fish and game and environmental damage.

“Parents will say, ‘This is who protects the deer,’ but we also protect the rights of all people in Michigan,” said Corporal Ivan Perez, who has been a conservation officer for 25 years.

Perez was stationed in Saginaw with the U.S. Coast Guard from 1990-95, where he met conservation officers who docked their boats at the same pier. A Texas native, Perez grew up hunting and fishing, and was interested in pursuing a career as a conservation officer.

If you ask officers why they elected to protect Michigan’s natural resources, they will give answers mirroring those behind their decision to serve our country – for something greater than themselves.

“After separating from the military, I wanted to continue service which was both beneficial to my state and fulfilling to myself,” said Sgt. Chris Maher, who supervises conservation officers in Macomb, St. Clair and Lapeer counties.

Maher joined the Army in 2002 and became a truck driver. He spent 2003-05 in Iraq, where he transported units in combat.

“I worked and fought beside many incredible men and women,” Maher said. “All of us faced daily adversity and got through it as a team.”

Maher served in the Army for 12 years, ending his career as a first lieutenant with the National Guard, responsible for leading his unit’s day-to-day logistics and operations.

“Leadership was the most valuable skill I learned in the military,” Maher said.

Maher’s peers echo the value in leadership, a trait that all conservation officers use daily, at all ranks.

Steven Burton pictured in Baghdad, Iraq.Steven Burton, assistant chief of the DNR Law Enforcement Division, retired from the military at the rank of major, after serving in the Army National Guard for 22 years, including a combat tour in Iraq from 2007-08.

“I wanted to serve my country, its citizens, and the ideals of a free democracy,” Burton said. “The Army allowed me to learn leadership skills through trial and error by permitting me to make mistakes, receive critical feedback, and coach me into making better leadership decisions for the good of my unit and its members.”

While stationed in the Upper Peninsula as the commander of Bravo Company, 107th Engineer Battalion, Burton worked into the early hours of Sept. 11, 2001. Little did he know that when his wife woke him after the first plane struck the World Trade Center’s North Tower, that those events would lead him to Iraq in the coming years.

During Operation Iraqi Freedom, Burton witnessed the same selfless service that motivated him to join the military displayed by his soldiers. Three weeks into his tour, one of his unit vehicles was struck with an improvised explosive device (IED) – which killed two soldiers and hospitalized others.

“I remember the feeling everyone had in the unit after that attack, being truly afraid for their life and the lives of their buddies,” Burton said. “But everyone continued to put themselves in harm’s way every day to accomplish the mission. My soldiers overcame their worst fear for something bigger than themselves. In the end, they saved countless lives of coalition troops and Iraqis by keeping the roads clear of IEDs.”

While military experience is not a requirement to become a conservation officer, many soldiers transition their skills to a law enforcement career, particularly in conservation enforcement.

Chad Baldwin shown on military duty in Kirkuk, Iraq in 2008.“I knew college wasn’t for me,” said Chad Baldwin, conservation officer in Charlevoix County. “I always had an interest in law enforcement, but I could never see myself being a traditional officer. I remember seeing a conservation officer while deer hunting with my dad. I didn’t know who he was or what he was doing, but at a young age I remember the professionalism he displayed.”

Baldwin, a master sergeant, has been in the Air Force for 21 years. As a squad leader in the Air Force National Guard, he is responsible for training and mentoring squad members to ensure they are qualified and certified to perform their duties.

“The military taught me so much,” Baldwin said. “Learning how to be a leader and supervising troops, to make sure they don’t make the same mistakes that I made as a young troop, is a skill I will utilize my entire career as a conservation officer.”

Conservation officers learn from each other. Each officer’s skills and experiences are unique and help peers enhance their skills.

Conservation officer Jeremy Sergey is shown with two fellow U.S. Coast Guardsmen in 2009.Conservation Officer Jeremy Sergey, who has worked for the DNR since 2016, patrols in Marquette County. He actively served the U.S. Coast Guard from 2005-13. He currently serves in the U.S. Coast Guard Reserves as a boatswain’s mate first class.

In 2009, Sergey was sent to Fargo, North Dakota to help evacuate hundreds of flood victims from their homes after record water levels in the area crested at more than 40 feet.

“Members of the Coast Guard from all over the country who had never met, worked together with state and local agencies,” Sergey said. “It was a true testament of what standardized training and human compassion can accomplish.”

Sergey’s Coast Guard experience driving boats and leading teams in maritime search and rescue and law enforcement patrols is valuable to one of his current positions as a marine instructor with the DNR.

When conservation officers are hired, they complete a 23-week recruit school academy, followed by six months of probationary field training and additional specialized training.

Operating vessels is an important part of a conservation officer’s job because they work on or near the water year-round and are often involved in search and rescue missions.

“I enjoy passing on knowledge that I have gained in the past 15 years, teaching new officers how to operate small craft during adverse weather conditions,” Sergey said.

For Sergey, raised in the Upper Peninsula, becoming a conservation officer was a simple decision.

“I remember being on the Atlantic Ocean my last year of active duty and reading the application steps to become a conservation officer, preparing myself to apply online when my ship had internet connectivity,” Sergey said.

Mark Leadman is shown dressed in his military uniform.In addition to their leadership, these conservation officers each bring diverse, worldly experiences and skills they use daily while patrolling local communities.

From 1988-91, Sgt. Mark Leadman was stationed in Aschaffenburg, Germany, assigned to the 3rd Infantry Division, where he maintained, drove and operated missile launcher vehicles.

“Being stationed in Germany when the Berlin Wall came down – to see both sides of Germany get reunited – the celebration amongst east and west Germans was unbelievable,” Leadman said.

Following in the footsteps of his father and two uncles by serving in the armed forces, Leadman always had his heart set on being a conservation officer.

Leadman served the U.S. Army and Army Reserves for a total of six years and currently supervises conservation officers in Baraga and Marquette counties. He has been with the DNR Law Enforcement Division for 22 years.

For anyone interested in pursuing a career as a conservation officer, Leadman advises to begin hunting, fishing and trapping.

Micah Hintze is shown in his Marine uniform.“It’s a very competitive career to get into, but it’s worth your time and effort if it’s what you truly want,” said Conservation Officer Micah Hintze, who patrols Oceana County.

As a Marine corporal, Hintze managed and maintained his unit’s equipment to ensure proper functioning for training students.

Hintze joined the Marines to experience life beyond the small town he grew up in.

“Joining the military taught me how to interact with different cultures, religions and walks of life,” Hintze said. “It opened my eyes to the bigger picture and showed me that there’s more good people in this world than bad.”

Hintze has been a conservation officer since 2017.

Whether they have been in the military or not, conversation officers serve the state of Michigan, and their local communities, with a common denominator – wanting to serve something greater than themselves.

Check out previous Showcasing the DNR stories in our archive at Michigan.gov/DNRStories. To subscribe to upcoming Showcasing articles, sign up for free email delivery at Michigan.gov/DNR.

/Note to editors: Contact: John Pepin, Showcasing the DNR series editor, at 906-250-7260. Accompanying photos and a text-only version of this story are available below for download and media use. Suggested captions follow. Credit: Photos provided by the individual officers, except for the Perez image, which should be credited to Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

Text-only version of this story.

Baldwin: Chad Baldwin, a master sergeant, has been in the U.S. Air Force for 21 years. As a squad leader in the Air Force National Guard, Baldwin is responsible for training and mentoring squad members to ensure they are qualified and certified to perform their duties. Baldwin, who has been a conservation officer since 2015, patrols in Charlevoix County.

Burton: In this 2008 photo, Major Steve Burton is shown at the multinational forces’ headquarters in Baghdad, Iraq. Burton retired as a major in the Army National Guard and now serves as the assistant chief for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Law Enforcement Division.

Hintze: Conservation Officer Micah Hintze patrols in Oceana County. Hintze served the Marines from 2012-16. As a corporal, Hintze managed and maintained his unit’s equipment to ensure proper functioning for training students. He has been with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Law Enforcement Division for more than three years.

Leadman: Sgt. Mark Leadman was stationed in Aschaffenburg, Germany from 1988-91, assigned to the 3rd Infantry Division, where he maintained, drove and operated missile launcher vehicles. He has been with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Law Enforcement Division for 22 years and oversees conservation officers in Baraga and Marquette counties.

Maher: Chris Maher served in the U.S. Army for 12 years, ending his career with the National Guard as a first lieutenant. He has been a conservation officer in Michigan since 2015 and manages officers in Lapeer, Macomb and St. Clair counties.

Perez: Cpl. Ivan Perez drives a 25-foot safe boat in Holland at the 2019 U.S. Coast Guard Festival. Perez served the U.S. Coast Guard from 1990-95 and is a marine safety specialist with the Michigan Department of Natural Resource’s Law Enforcement Division. He has been a conservation officer for more than 25 years.

Sergey: In this photo from March 30, 2009, Petty Officers 3rd Class Jeremy Sergey, front, Dan Fraley, right, and Danny McDorman stand in front of an 18-foot special purpose craft-air fan-propelled vessel designed to be able to operate in a minimum of 6 inches of water. The three crewmembers from U.S. Coast Guard Station Sault Ste. Marie were part of a multi-agency response to the record-setting floodwaters in Fargo, North Dakota that same year./

DNR COVID-19 RESPONSE: For details on affected DNR facilities and services, visit this webpage. Follow state actions and guidelines at Michigan.gov/Coronavirus.
Enjoy free park entry on Veterans Day

Enjoy free park entry on Veterans Day

Oakland County Parks


waterford oaks

Enjoy free park entry on Veterans Day

Visitors will receive free daily park entry to Oakland County Parks and Recreation’s parks on Veterans Day, Wednesday, Nov. 11.

Everyone can enjoy access to nature areas, trails and dog parks from 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset (unless otherwise posted) at the following parks:

  • Addison Oaks County Park, 1480 West Romeo Road, north of Rochester
  • Highland Oaks County Park, 6555 Milford Road, Highland
  • Independence Oaks County Park, 9501 Sashabaw Road, near Clarkston
  • Lyon Oaks County Park and Lyon Oaks Dog Park, 52221 Pontiac Trail, Wixom
  • Orion Oaks County Park, 2301 W. Clarkston Road, Lake Orion
  • Orion Oaks Dog Park, Joslyn Road between Clarkston and Scripps roads, Lake Orion
  • Red Oaks Dog Park, 31353 Dequindre, Madison Heights
  • Rose Oaks County Park, 10400 Fish Lake Road, near Holly

Learn More

orion oaks

Oakland County Parks and Recreation

The Oakland County Parks are your recreation destination. Thirteen parks provide healthy outdoor adventures, soothing natural surroundings and unlimited options for good times with family and friends. With nearly 7,000 acres and more than 80 miles of trails to explore, you can discover adventure in your own backyard.

DNR: News Digest – Week of Nov. 2, 2020

DNR: News Digest – Week of Nov. 2, 2020


News Digest – Week of Nov. 2, 2020

forest road

Don’t miss your chance to comment on proposed changes to state forest road maps.

Some of the items in this week’s news digest reflect the impact of COVID-19 and how the Michigan Department of Natural Resources is adapting to meet customers’ needs. Public health and safety are our biggest priorities, and we will continue to share news and information about the safest, and sometimes new, ways to enjoy our state’s natural and cultural resources.

Follow our COVID-19 response page for FAQs and updates on facilities and reopening dates. For the latest public health guidelines and news, visit Michigan.gov/Coronavirus and CDC.gov/Coronavirus.

Here’s a look at some of this week’s stories from the Department of Natural Resources:

See other news releases, Showcasing the DNR stories, photos and other resources at Michigan.gov/DNRPressRoom.

PHOTO FOLDER: Larger, higher-res versions of the images used below, and additional ones, are available in this folder.

Forest road maps are open for annual review

forest roadsThousands of miles of Michigan’s state forest roads are open for the public to use and explore. As part of an annual inventory and review process, public comments will be accepted through Dec. 1 on proposed changes to vehicle use on state forest roads.

This annual update helps ensure that the DNR’s forest road inventory is accurate and meets requirements outlined in Public Act 288 of 2016.

“Public participation is important for this decision-making process to protect natural resources while ensuring as much recreational access as possible,” said DNR Forest Resources Division acting chief Jeff Stampfly.

Proposed changes to road maps include:

  • Adding roads that previously were unmapped.
  • Deleting roads that no longer exist.
  • Removing duplicate road entries.
  • Closing roads to conventional vehicle use, including ORVs.
  • Closing roads only to ORV use and opening other roads to ORV use.

“This year, efforts focused on evaluating the existing forest road maps, making changes where warranted, and comparing on-the-ground roads to online datasets,” said Kristen Matson, forest road inventory review team member. “Changes were proposed to increase the accuracy of the map system.”

Public input will be accepted online and via email until Dec. 1. Comment on or view the locations of proposed changes on an interactive web map or printable PDF maps at Michigan.gov/ForestRoads or send emails to DNR-RoadInventoryProject@Michigan.gov.

Comments will also be accepted at upcoming Michigan Natural Resources Commission meetings in early 2021. At the January meeting, state forest road proposals will be brought before the DNR director for information. At the February meeting, the DNR director is expected to make a formal decision on the proposed changes.

New maps will go into effect and be published online April 1, 2021.

Break out your binoculars for bald eagles

bald eagleThe bald eagle is an iconic bird that holds special meaning for many Michiganders. They can be found in the state year-round, and, if you didn’t spot any this summer, you still might see one of these handsome birds in the coming winter months. Keep your binoculars handy; bald eagles can be seen congregating around open bodies of water hunting for fish. You can use the eBird website to see where eagles have been spotted.

Eagles, while still protected by state and federal laws, have recovered in number and it’s not uncommon to see them throughout Michigan. Bald eagles’ white head and tail feathers are striking features, but did you know that the birds don’t get these white feathers until they’re 5 years old? This is also when they start looking for a mate. Immature eagles are all brown with white mottling.

During the early spring and summer months you might be fortunate enough to see an eagle nest site and get to watch the adults raise their chicks. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, there were almost 850 bald eagle nests in Michigan in 2019! Nests were found in 81 of the state’s 83 counties.

Michigan is also lucky to get occasional visits from one of North America’s other eagles – the golden eagle. While golden eagles don’t nest in Michigan, they can be seen moving through the state during fall and spring migrations. These large, majestic birds are an exciting sight, so break out your binoculars and keep your eyes trained on the sky.

The All About Birds site by The Cornell Lab has helpful information and bird identification tips, including for the bald eagle and golden eagle.

Additional tips and information about wildlife viewing in Michigan can be found at Michigan.gov/Wildlife.

Deer hunters can enter prize drawings while helping feed hungry families

venisonAs Michigan’s firearm deer season draws near, and with bow season already underway, hunters can help hungry families in their community by donating a deer to Michigan Sportsmen Against Hunger.

For a third year, the DNR is cooperating with the organization and Jay’s Sporting Goods in Clare to accept deer for donation to local food banks. Hunters in northeast Michigan will have a new opportunity to participate by donating at Northwoods Wholesale Outlet in Pinconning.

Hunters donating a legally taken deer at the Michigan Sportsmen Against Hunger truck at the Jay’s Clare location or Northwoods Wholesale Outlet in Pinconning will have their name entered for a chance to win a $500 gift certificate from the store where they donated.

A donation truck will be at Jay’s – located at 8800 S. Clare Ave. in Clare – from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, Nov. 16; Friday, Nov. 20; and Saturday, Nov. 21. Deer donated at Jay’s will be processed at Carson Village Market in Carson City.

Northwoods Wholesale Outlet, located at 229 W. 5th St. in Pinconning, will host a truck from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 15, and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday, Nov. 16.

Hunters who can’t make these events will have another opportunity to enter a separate drawing – open to any hunter who donates a deer at one of the many Michigan Sportsmen Against Hunger participating processors throughout the state – for a chance to win a wild boar hunt or one of several other prizes.

Michigan Sportsmen Against Hunger is an all-volunteer, nonprofit organization that helps connect donors, wild game processors and charities like food banks, pantries and shelters that offer critical food assistance.

The organization processed over 82,000 pounds of ground venison last year, providing more than 400,000 meals for families in need.

“Last year was great, but with the pandemic, the need for food donations is even greater. I would love to hit 100,000 pounds this year,” said Dean Hall, executive officer of Michigan Sportsmen Against Hunger.

To learn more about the prize drawing, find a participating processor or make a monetary donation to support venison processing, visit

Hunters also can make a monetary donation when they buy a hunting license.

Questions? Contact Ray Rustem at 517-420-0005.

Hunters, plan ahead for kill tags to arrive in time

deerWith just under two weeks until Michigan’s firearm deer season opener, the DNR encourages people planning to buy hunting licenses online to do it soon. The reason? When license purchases are made online, all kill tags (the tags you’re required to attach to your deer) are sent in the mail and generally will take between seven and 14 days to arrive.

Ken Silfven, DNR license sales and customer service manager, said the last-minute rush for licenses tends to happen every year, and it’s understandable.

“We totally get it. People are busy with work and family responsibilities. Sometimes, you’re probably thinking ahead about the excitement of that first hunt of the year, but maybe not about the details,” Silfven said. “We’re just trying to avoid having too many people sitting down at their computers to buy licenses the weekend before opening day, and then worrying about kill tags.”

Hunters can buy licenses online at Michigan.gov/DNRLicenses or in person at any licensing agent. For more information, email MDNR-E-License@Michigan.gov or call 517-284-6057.

ICYMI: $3.6 million in grants available to target invasive species

efbMichigan’s Invasive Species Grant Program is accepting proposals for the 2020 funding cycle, with an anticipated $3.6 million available to applicants. The program – a joint effort of the Michigan departments of Natural Resources; Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy; and Agriculture and Rural Development – is part of a statewide initiative launched in 2014 to help prevent, detect and control invasive species in Michigan.

The 2020 grant program handbook outlines priorities and application guidelines. Applicants also can take advantage of a two-part webinar Thursday, Nov.5:

  • Part 1 starts at 9 a.m. and will focus on general grant information, 2020 priorities and the application process.
  • Part 2 follows at 10 a.m. and will explain the Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area application process and funding for 2020.

Both the handbook and webinar registration information are available at Michigan.gov/MISGP. A recorded version of the webinar will be available at this website after Nov. 10.

Local, state, federal and tribal units of government, nonprofit organizations and universities may apply for funding to support invasive species projects in Michigan. Full project proposals are due Dec. 11. Award announcement is anticipated in March 2021.


Got a family genealogy project or want to start one? Check out the virtual fall family history seminar, Saturday, Nov. 14. For just $20, learn how to get started on your family history journey.


No matter what you choose to hunt, make sure you have a valid license before you head out. Make note of season dates and check out the MI-Hunt interactive map for lands open to hunting.


Michigan has an abundance of forest, but not everyone takes care of it. Every year, tons of trash is illegally dumped in our forests. Adopt-a-Forest today and help keep these lands clean and healthy for all to enjoy.

DNR COVID-19 RESPONSE: For details on affected DNR facilities and services, visit this webpage. Follow state actions and guidelines at Michigan.gov/Coronavirus.